[WATCH] Common kestrel and merlin released on Comino

After weeks of rehabilitation, BirdLife Malta releases two birds of prey on Comino

A female common kestrel like the one released on Comino
A female common kestrel like the one released on Comino
Kestrel and Merlin released on Comino

A common kestrel (Spanjulett) and a merlin (Seqer ta’ Denbu) were last week released on Comino by BirdLife Malta after being rehabilitated and treated for different injuries sustained due to illegal hunting.

The raptors, both male, were released on Wednesday as soon as the weather conditions permitted, knowing that the weather is a determining factor for a successful release.

Comino is a Natura 2000 site and a bird sanctuary where no hunting or trapping is allowed and it is where rehabilitated raptors are released by BirdLife Malta.

The common kestrel is one of the most common migrating falcons for Malta in spring and autumn and an occasional breeding bird for the archipelago.

It was found by a caring member of the public in a field close to the road in the Tas-Santi Valley, limits of Imġarr. The bird was retrieved on 6 November and taken to the vet where it was examined and X-rayed.

It was found to be suffering from shotgun injuries with a severe broken left wing and two lead pellets still embedded in its body. The kestrel, named Thor, was rehabilitated by BirdLife Malta for 46 days, before beiong ringed and released.

Soon after its release, it was met by another kestrel, and the birds flew in synchrony for 20 minutes before disappearing behind the sloping hills.  

The merlin is an annual visitor to Malta, albeit a rare one. The male bird was retrieved by the ALE in an unknown location and handed over to BirdLife Malta on 14 November.

It was suffering from shotgun injuries with a broken right wing as confirmed by X-rays. The merlin, which is a very small raptor, was named Jupiter and was rehabilitated by BirdLife Malta for 38 days.

Merlins are known to be fierce raptors and are regularly seen mobbing Golden Eagles (a much larger bird) in northern countries.

After being ringed, the falcon was released on Comino where it flew around strongly, calling loudly and settled across the valley.


(Footage by Nimrod Mifsud, Alina Poletska and Nicholas Barbara. Editing by Nathaniel Attard)

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